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Card Conditions

At StarCityGames.com we strive to be an industry leader in accurate grading of Magic: The Gathering cards.

When grading cards, we primarily grade cards from the back side of a single-faced card, and both sides of double-faced cards and foil cards. All condition guidelines listed below refer to the back side of a card unless otherwise specified. Double-faced cards and foil cards are determined by the lowest condition on either side of the card (front or back).

Our staff is trained with all of the condition guidelines listed below.

Near Mint (NM)

Cards in Near Mint condition may show minimal wear but are still close to Mint condition. Cards in this condition are generally indistinguishable from other cards in this condition. Near Mint cards are always legal for tournament play.

If there are multiple issues present on the same card, the card is likely to be graded as Played.

Damage Types

Minor scratching indicates scratches that do not remove any color from the card (they're not visibly white). Scratches should be either isolated to a single area, or be minor in two or three small areas.

Scratching shows up easier on the front of foils, so some small amount of scratching (similar to what is described above) is acceptable. Scratching should still not reveal any silver on a foil side of a card.

Small nicks and indentions are okay as long as there are four or fewer and not in a concentrated area. Longer instances of border wear move the card into Played condition.

Nicks and impressions on the ends of corners should appear on two or fewer corners, assuming they're very minor.

Clouding (areas of small micro scratching) on Near Mint cards should be largely in isolation. Cards printed prior to 5th Edition have a higher tolerance for minor clouding.

Clouding is more frequent on the front of foils, so slightly more leniency will be placed on the front side of foils relative to clouding on the back of any card.

Lines, minor packaging-related border damage, or other small defects will not affect the grade of the card.

misprints, such as slight discoloration, mild misalignment, minor miscutting, and or other small misprints will not affect the grade of the card.

Played (PL)

Cards in Played condition show definite wear. Cards in this condition could have a number of grading issues to the card, listed below. Played cards won't necessarily look similar to one another. Played cards are always legal for tournament play in a sleeve.

Played cards can have multiple of these listed issues. However, the more unique issues a Played card has, the more likely it is to be graded Heavily Played instead.

Damage Types

Any clearly noticeable scratching on the face or back of the card. Scratching on Played cards may show white on non-foil sides of cards or silver on foil sides of cards.

Any bends in the card that do not crease the card. Frequently these come from cards being stored in three-ring binders or any storage where pressure is being applied to a certain area of the card.

Any minor shuffle creasing from the top, side, or bottom of the card. Shuffle creasing that moves more than 15% top-to-bottom or 20% left-to-right reduces the card grade to Heavily Played.

Any clearly noticeable border wear that is in more than a few small, isolated areas. Whitening on the card border is acceptable as Played condition unless it is very significant.

On the foil sides of cards, noticeable silvering visible on the card's borders are graded Played.

Any number of slightly bent or compressed corners, or multiple minor instances of corner wear on two or more corners.

Light or minimal whitening on the back of the card, inside the borders.

A small amount of dirt appearing on the front or back of the card.

A small amount of water damage appearing on the front or back of the card, most frequently on a small area on the card border.

Any pattern on the card back or front from being in a warm plastic card sleeve/binder page. These can also appear on card when too many cards have been placed into the same compartment in a binder for an extended period of time.

Cards that have a curve to them. Cards that are flat in a sleeve are considered Near Mint, and not Played.

Foil cards are given slightly more leeway, especially older foil cards. Moderate curving will still be considered Played.

Any misprint/defect that is large or very noticeable. Misprints or defects that appear to significantly damage the card would grade Heavily Played.

We do not sell cards that are signed or stamped online. Stamped cards and cards that would normally be Near Mint but are signed by the original artist or Richard Garfield are purchased at Played buylist pricing.

Heavily Played (HP)

Heavily Played cards may show extreme wear. Heavily Played are tournament playable sleeved or double sleeved. We sell very few individual cards in this condition on our website in addition to selling Heavily Played cards as part of some clearly-named lots.

Heavily Played cards are primarily sold in-person at events so the purchaser may view the card before making a purchase. Heavily Played cards can have the widest range of condition issues.

Damage Types

Anything other than a small or largely unnoticeable dot of ink is Heavily Played.

Any dirt beyond a small, isolated amount on the front or back of the card is Heavily Played.

Any water damage other than a small or largely unnoticeable area on a card is Heavily Played.

Large and very visible whitening on the back of a card, or any whitening on the front of a card.

Very significant wear to the border or corner of a card, usually resulting in heavy whitening and/or physical damage to the border or corner.

Any shuffle creasing that goes beyond 15% top-to-bottom, or 20% left-to-right from the border of a card.

Any cards that we purchase at bulk prices (cards that do not appear on our buylist) are considered Heavily Played with any amount of shuffle creasing.

Any visible bends to the card that still leave the card flat.

Any wear or damage that causes indention in the card.

Any wear or damage that causes card layers to separate.

This is more common in foils, and very minor delamination is considered Played rather than Heavily Played.

Damaged (DM)

Damaged cards are torn or have holes, have significant water damage over the entire card, are bent or warped, or have severe bends. We do not sell damaged cards online, and only occasionally sell them in person at events.

Damage Types
 

Any tearing on the card.

Cards that have a strong odor to them (such as cigarette smoke) are considered damaged and may not be purchased.

Any number of things could physically damage a card, including indentions felt on both sides of the card, warping from heat or humidity (not curving), foreign substances, folding, and many others.